By OUR STAFF REPORTER
Mussoorie, 28 Jun: The fishing ‘festival’ popularly called “Maund” in the Aglar Valley, 28 kms from Mussoorie, was held today with thousands gathered for the festivity. “Timru” plant powder prepared by the villagers was dumped in the Aglar rivulet to paralyse the fish and thousands waited for them downstream as prized catch to be taken home for a sumptuous meal.
The fishing festival began from ‘Maujkot Patalki Tal’ in which thousands of villagers from the several ‘Pattis’ participated with fervour. Earlier, a cultural programme was also presented on the occasion by women folk on the routé of the Aglar Rivulet. The festival claims to have an environmental past history, too. Previously villagers used to fish at any time and place, leading to a decrease in the number, but when it was decided that all would fish only during Maun, the fish got a chance to recover their number. The festival ended with the drinking of the herbal wine prepared especially for this occasion after which the villagers returned to their respective villages.
Locals Rakesh Tomar and Jot Singh Rana said that this festival had a uniqueness about it, which is rooted in tribal traditions going way back to the times of Maharaja of Tehri. This was the day when the Maharaja visited the place to inaugurate the ‘Mela’ and the fishing festival. To see him in person and take the fish was a blessing. The festival falls immediately before the monsoons. He further said that villagers from Silwar, Laloor and Panchgai, etc., have a system as part of which the Timru powder is prepared in turn. He also said that the Raja tried to stop the festival as it became a place for revenge taking among the villagers, but did not achieve success. He added that it was the festival of “meeting and greeting” exchanged among the assembled villagers. There is a popular saying that “a bad day at fishing is better than a great day at work”.
Surat Singh Tomar said it was an event for the youth to meet and enjoy the day at the Aglar Rivulet and after catching the fish, they take them to their respective villages for consumption. The most surprising thing about the festival is that it does not have any leader and villagers catch fish in a democratic fashion where every individual, according to capabilities, can catch unlimited amount in a day. It is important to note that the numbers of tourists are swelling every year to witness this fishing festival in the region, but the presence of the local population is on the decrease due to migration of the population from the villages. Another sad thing noticeable was that some villagers were using dynamite to catch the fish in utter violation of the tradition.